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Byline: CATHERINE JONES Social Affairs Reporter

LIVERPOOL campaigners today welcomed reports that action is planned to avert thousands of deaths from smoking.

National reports today suggested the city could be one of the first in Britain to bring in a ban on smoking in public places.

The Smoke Free Liverpool group is fighting to axe tobacco smoke in bars, restaurants and shopping centres.

The news comes on the day a public health report by former bank boss Derek Wanless demanded more must be done to prevent the 120,000 smoking-related deaths in Britain each year.

Up to 1,000 of these are in Liverpool, including around 100 believed to be passive smoking deaths.

Campaigners fighting to ban smoking in Liverpool's public places welcomed the report, but said they first hoped to encourage businesses to become smoke free rather than use laws to enforce a ban.

Measures are expected to be unveiled next month which will allow big cities to declare themselves smokeless zones.

Liverpool is likely to be in the first wave of cities to make use of any new powers, following New York,California and Ireland.

The Smoke Free Liverpool group includes the city council, the Chamber of Commerce, primary care trusts and cancer charities.

Co-ordinator Chris Owens said: ``In Liverpool we have a very successful smoking cessation service, run by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

``We want to build on the success we already have to move forward to support places to implement smoke free policies. Legislation needs the public behind it.

``In the first stage, we want to prove to businesses that being smoke free makes good business sense.

``We aren't challenging a person's individual right to smoke, but their right to smoke must end where another person's right to breathe clean air begins.''

A spokesman for the city council said a report on making Liverpool smoke free was due to go before the council's executive board soon.


A REAL KILLER: There are 12,000 smoking- related deaths in Britain each year
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 26, 2004
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